CIVIL SOCIETY Civic Education Through

By Kwok, Roberta | Stanford Social Innovation Review, Summer 2012 | Go to article overview

CIVIL SOCIETY Civic Education Through


Kwok, Roberta, Stanford Social Innovation Review


Social Networks ? From 2001 to 2002, more than 70 local NGOs fanned out across Kenya to conduct one of the biggest adult civic education efforts ever launched in a developing country. The NGOs held about 50,000 events to teach citizens about constitutional reform and the upcoming national democratic election, using formats ranging from lectures to puppet shows. Bythe 2002 election, the program had trained roughly 4.5

million people. Steven Finkel, a professor of political science at the University of Pittsburgh, wanted to find out how effective the program was. Finkel had studied civic education programs in the Dominican Republic and SouthAfrica, but wasn't able to compare people's attitudes before and after workshops. In Kenya, he says, "the idea was to try to get a program that was at its inception and build in the impact evaluation from

the beginning." Finkelvisited Kenya several times from 2000 to 2003 and worked with a survey company, which sent teams to the NGOs' workshops and interviewed people who were about to attend. The teams also talked to nearby residents who were not attending, then followed up with workshop attendees and non-attendees over the next year and a half. Surveys were designed to determine if people's political knowledge, participation, tolerance, and identification with Kenya (rather than with individual tribes) changed over

time. Workshop participants improved in all four areas. But the program's indirect effects were sometimes even stronger than effects on attendees themselves. For instance, a person who didn't go to a workshop but talked to four or five work- shop attendees might show a bigger shift in knowledge and attitudes than someone who just went to one workshop. In the first case, the person is get- ting information from people she trusts, says Finkel, who collaborated with Amy Erica Smith, a political scientist at Vanderbilt University. …

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